Pinacoteca Agnelli is delighted to announce that in late autumn 2011 it is to host the first ever exhibition dedicated exclusively to the postal art of Gilbert & George.
Curated by Mirta d’Argenzio, the exhibition will present over 140 of THE URETHRA POSTCARD PICTURES of 2009, in addition to early examples of Gilbert & George’s postal art dating back to the late 1960s.
Postal art in various forms has been an integral element in the art of Gilbert & George. Beginning with the POSTAL SCULPTURES of 1969-70, the same period as the first of the artists’ legendary LIVING SCULPTURE presentations, and including THE POSTCARD SCULPTURES, POSTCARD PIECES and TITLED POSTCARD PICTURES, all created between 1972 – 1989, up to the present day and the group of 564 pictures which comprise THE URETHRA POSTCARD PICTURES.
The postal works of Gilbert & George with their titles and images, often including a single word or line of text, expressed the new poetics of the artists at the beginning of their career better than any critical essay. The artists have likened their art made from postcards to a form of ‘sketching’, and their postal art provides us with a conceptual magnifying glass through which to gain a greater insight into the oeuvre of Gilbert & George.
The new exhibition will feature an installation of THE URETHRA POSTCARD PICTURES which forms a single POSTAL SCULPTURE, conceived and designed by Gilbert & George to occupy two entire floors of the post-industrial venue in Turin: “Postcard Pictures themselves are sort of the automatic we believe in. Because once we decided upon the shape, a circle with a dot in the middle, and the subject had been found, they made themselves, likewise happens with the installation.” Gilbert & George
THE URETHRA POSTCARD PICTURES comprise postcards, flyers and sexual service cards found in London telephone boxes, with the combinations and titles generated at random to ensure everything is as automatic as possible. The compositional criteria used throughout takes the form of a rectangle of cards with a single card in the centre, in effect an angulated version of the sign of the urethra, the sexual symbol used by the progressive theosophist C.W. Leadbetter (1854 -1934).
“We did it proportionally blind. We took the cards out of the bags without looking, and stolen without choosing, and we have created the installation in the same way, completely automatically. So whatever happens is extraordinary. But it happens by accident.” Gilbert & George.